By Author / Illustrator
Paperback / softback
Laugh-out-loud, fresh teen comedy with an on-trend witchy spin - Sabrina the Teenage Witch for a new generation! Morgan Charmley is finding it very difficult to keep her witch powers under control and undercover at school. With a fellow secret witch trying to sabotage her and a confusing friendship with a sworn-enemy warlock to navigate, the girl who can spark magic with a click of her fingers knows that trouble always follows fast! Perfect for fans of Louise Rennison, Zoella and Holly Bourne
Teenagers with witchy powers are a constant in popular culture - think Tabitha from Bewitched or Sabrina the Teen Witch depending on your generation. Morgan Charmley is the latest to join their ranks and is arguably the best yet.
Readers were first introduced to Morgan in Teen Witch, the first book in the series, as she struggled to prove she had enough control over her powers to attend a normal school. As it turned out that was just the start for Morgan as she struggled to make friends with non-magical teenagers without using her powers and had to keep her ability to spark magic with a click of her fingers a total secret.
Having managed - just - to keep her witch identity under wraps in Teen Witch, Spells and Secrets sees Morgan face even bigger tests. Signed up to the interschool quiz team against her will, Morgan comes up against her long-time nemesis, another secret teen witch who is intent on sabotaging her every move. As if that wasn't enough, Morgan must try to figure out her new and very confusing relationship with her sworn warlock enemy as well as come to terms with some shocking discoveries about her own (usually) absent father.
Morgan is an engaging character readers will really care about, who is ably aided and abetted by her witty, wise-cracking, shape-shifting familiar, Merlin, who provides lots of laugh out loud moments. Morgan is an awkward outsider, the new girl at school desperate but struggling to fit in - not quite witch, not quite human, not quite clever enough for the quiz team, not quite cool enough to join the in-crowd - which guarantees that tween readers will identify completely with her.
The author, Katy Birchall, is a huge advocate of the value of funny stories. When Morgan's spells go wrong they have hilarious, disastrous consequences and Katy's hope is that by laughing at scenes in the book readers will feel 'like they finally have someone on their side'. Although Morgan is in Y9, Spells and Secrets is perfectly pitched for that awkward post-Y6 but not quite mature enough for YA reading cohort and is shot through with powerful but never preachy messages about family, relationships, the need to work hard and being true to yourself.
Despite being the second in the spooky comedy series, Spells and Secrets reads brilliantly alone at Halloween or at anytime. Light-hearted, big-hearted and huge fun, we definitely need more in the series.
KS3 readers wanting a slightly darker story of witchcraft and secrets will enjoy Wilde by Eloise Williams. Katy Birchall's IT Girl and Secret Teenage Heiress series are also well worth recommending to KS3 girls for their engaging heroines, witty humour and heart. Another hilarious and very witty disaster-prone heroine with a fashion model calling can be found in the Geek Girl series by Holly Smale. The Rosewood Chronicles by Connie Glynn offer an alternative spin on identity and magic with a princess theme.
304 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+